July 26, 2015

Planets, Dr. Seuss and Snowflakes---Combined Proof That There is a CREATOR

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

Nine and a half years ago NASA's New Horizon spacecraft left our humble, little planet and began its voyage to to the edges of our solar system and beyond. After traveling 3 billion plus miles New Horizon finally passed Pluto, the furthest planet from our sun. I don't know about you but I find it so humbling and awe inspiring that we human beings, using the perfection that surrounds us, can mange to find a planet that is so far away. Yet, within our universe, it would be as close as a neighbor down the street.
Planet PLUTO--3 thousand million miles from Earth (3 billion)
Let's move past Pluto. It seems NASA's Kepler Space Telescope, launched in 2009, has found a possible 'exoplanet'; something worlds beyond our puny solar system. This exoplanet could be similar to our hometown, Earth. Hello sister planet, Kepler 452b.  The Kepler Telescope has identified close to 5000 exoplanets since it started scanning the deepest parts of space. But this is the first one that could be just like Earth. Now, get this--it is one thousand and four light years away. Our closest star system is Alpha Centauri, a mere 4.3 light years away. That means our closest star system is trillions of miles from our solar system and would take us tens of thousands of years to get there. Kepler 452b is 200 times further than that. My question is--how can  we know these things?

How can we possibly know how to measure distance and location and density and climate relating to places that are so unimaginably far away? The speed of light is 186,000 miles per second. Who figured that out? How do you measure the speed of light? Assuming the number is correct, that means in one minute light travels 11+ million miles. That would be almost 16 billion miles in one day. Multiply that number by four and a half years. Do you see where I'm going with this? The light from our own sun takes eight minutes to reach Earth. Yet Kepler 452b is more than  a thousand "light years" away and our scientists know it revolves around its sun in 385 days vs our 365 days. WHEW!

 What about Earth? How much of what Earth does do we take for granted? Well, here is one thing it does that we never think about but without its never ending accuracy we would have chaos. That is TIME. There are 24 hours in a day. Not 25 or 23 or 24.8, but 24. Imagine if there were random hours in a day. Yeah, right. So how did we get 24 hours in a day? Enough---let's just take it for what it is. MIND BOGGLING.

What about explosions? (Please bear with me--I do intend to make a point.) Explosions are destructive and, for the most part, maim, kill and destroy. This past Fourth of July a guy in Maine, in a festive frame of mind, brilliantly set a rocket off from the top of his head. He died instantly. Jason Pierre Paul,  the all-pro defensive star for the NFL's N.Y. Giants, blew several fingers off his hand with fireworks. He will be out indefinitely.  C. J. Wilson, of the Tampa bay Buccaneers, retired because he blew several fingers of his hand with fireworks. We can go back 70 years and remember that on August 6, 1945, the atomic bomb blew the Japanese city of Hiroshima to smithereens. It also killed about 80,000 people. It follows that if I set a bomb off in my car the chances of the result being a nicer car are--well, ZERO.

So now--to the point.  The Big Bang Theory of Creation has become the favored explanation of how our seemingly infinite universe came into existence. Scientists do agree that the universe did, in fact, have a beginning.  They also know that the universe is expanding and changing and dying, just like we do.  To the question: At the moment of creation when the unimaginable explosion took place or whether it was something like a giant balloon expanding and expanding until it "popped" spewing matter outwards, it all had to be controlled. Who did that?

Random explosions do not and cannot result in perfection. Twenty-four hours in a day is perfect for us imperfect species to depend on, including the animals.  It is a contradiction to believe otherwise. Everything around us is perfect. We can predict the rising and setting of the sun to the second, the new and full moons to the minute. We know when the tides rise and fall and can predict their lowest and highest points to the minute. We know when an eclipse, whether solar or lunar will occur and where. We have learned how to use the world around us to maintain our very existence or, in many cases, destroy it.

Bottom line: because the universe is so vast and expansive (and apparently infinite) and all of it is moving and changing within a perfectly ordered system proves someone bigger and smarter than any of us put this in place. We cannot understand this. We cannot scientifically prove it. But, no matter what, we live in it and survive by it every second of every day of our lives. Perfection does not come from chaos. Perfection can only come from someone who is PERFECT. I know who that  Person is even though  I cannot see HIM or touch HIM. All I have to do is see a rising sun, a blooming rose, a full moon, a rainbow...or hear the cry of a newborn baby or ponder the magic of one snowflake, unique unto itself.

Maybe Dr. Seuss nailed it in his famous book, "Horton Hears a Who". Maybe our planet Earth is really no bigger than Horton's, "Whoville". Maybe we are specks on the end of a ball of dust. Maybe we are not as big and as smart as we think we are. We had to have a Creator. It is common sense. It is ultimately all in HIS hands.  I am also sure HE subscribes to the famous sentence in Dr. Seuss's book; "a persons a person no matter how small". Maybe those very "smart" people who reject what must be so, need to breathe in a deep dose of humility and realize that this all did not just happen as the result of some random explosion or expansion. It is illogical and makes no sense (to me).
                           
                                           ©2015 Larry Peterson All Rights Reserved

July 17, 2015

Goodbye "Little Bro"--You and Your Watermelon are Forever in Our Hearts

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME


By Larry Peterson

The picture to the right was taken at my daughter's wedding and it was a happy day. Facing the picture, the young fellow on the left is my "baby" brother, Johnny. The one to his left in the back is my brother, Bobby. I am to the far right, my sister, Carolyn, is in front of me and my brother, Danny, is to her left in front of Bobby. The young man with the silly grin on his face is my son, Larry Jr. who was really having a "good" time. The little guy is my grandson, Darren. He is now in college.

I posted this photo because there are very few photos of the five of us together.  There has been a lot of death in our family over the years. Bobby died in 2007 from cardiac failure. He was 53. Carolyn's husband, Bob, died back in 1993. He had a brain-stem tumor. He was almost 53. My wife, Loretta, died (melanoma) in 2003. She was 58. Danny's wife, Annie, died (emphysema) last April. She was 64. Our mom died at 40 from leukemia. Our dad died at 53 from Pancreatitis. We had a stillborn daughter, Theresa. Her life span ended while entering the world.  And then, the other day, our brother Johnny, (I also called him "Little Bro" and he called me, "Big Bro") died. He was 56. Unlike the others, Johnny's death was self-inflicted. This I do not understand. Therefore, I have turned  it over to God....totally.

It  is a beautiful thing when you do have an abiding faith in the God above to help you climb over the rubble of life. And yes, this left a serious pile of rubble for sure. I will not analyze or try to figure out "what happened".  I just ask anyone who might read this to say a prayer for "Little Bro" and for his wife and family. We have the peace of knowing that Johnny is now with his most loving and merciful Father and is in "GOOD HANDS".

Also, maybe say a prayer for me. I am unable to attend Johnny's funeral today and I am quite "in the dumps" about it. I should be with the rest of my family. However, being a caregiver to an Alzheimer patient (my wife) can sometimes leave you unable to act on unexpected life situations. I will go to 8 a.m. Mass in my parish and I will be OK.

Anyway, today we say GOOD-BYE to the "baby" of the family. It is a hard day for all of us but God and His Son and our Brother, Jesus, do have our backs.  WE will feel their comfort and the loving hand of Mother Mary will guide us along.  Love you "Little Bro".
                                                            ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
PART II

Our dear cousin, Vicki Nelson, had a wonderful memory of Johnny back when he was seven years old. She wrote an essay about it and it came straight from her heart and I am posting it now--in honor of "Little Bro".  Thank you Vicki.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Watermelon Story
  by Vicki Nelson


To look at him that summer morning, no one would ever guess he had a care in the world. And in that moment, I suppose he didn't. Still, it must have been confusing for him. Here he was ‐ a seven‐year old kid from the Bronx suddenly transplanted with his eleven year old brother for the summer in his uncle's new house in the New Jersey suburbs. The brothers were recently orphaned after a short span of time where first their mom, then their grandma, and finally their dad died. The two boys had three older siblings, one of whom was a bonafied teenager and the oldest two were barely old enough to be considered real grown‐ups. How it was going to work out, no one really knew. Uncle Larry had four kids of his own, plus a wife and mother‐in‐law to support. He had just bought a larger house to accommodate his growing family and they barely had two nickels to rub together in those days. He was a one man show with his nuts and bolts business that was touch and go lately. Still he did what he could for his sister's kids. He was their beloved Uncle Larry even if he did live in Jersey.

And in Jersey, everyone had lawns. Having a lawn and then complaining about cutting the grass was the main reason people moved across the Hudson River. Uncle Larry had not put in the backyard lawn yet. Hundreds of weeds needed pulling and rocks needed removing. The earth was soft, however, and Aunt Gloria promised to pay each working kid a penny a weed ‐ easy work for a bountiful harvest that awaited. Brother Bobby got the bright idea to remove some of the leaves from each weed thereby maximizing his profit for each weed. Aunt Gloria, originally a city kid from New York herself, quickly wised up to the shenanigans and so we all picked weeds for free from then on. I don't really remember how the next part came about ‐ maybe we just finally had enough land to do it. Or maybe it was just that we were already outside so much anyway, digging in the dirt and pulling weeds. Somebody got the idea to plant our own vegetable garden so we picked a nice flat spot way out back and sowed seeds from little packets. We planted the usual ‐ tomatoes and zucchini and bell pepper plants and ‐ Johnny's special request ‐ watermelons.

New Jersey is the Garden State and our plants just grew like crazy. The watermelon plants grew hundreds of leaves that spread out all over the place. Johnny would jump out of bed first thing every morning and run to the garden patch in hopes of spotting his first watermelon. The tomatoes eventually turned red, the bell peppers and zucchini grew in abundance too.  Meanwhile, Aunt Gloria was beginning to suspect that the watermelons were not going to produce much more than green leaves. So she planned a little surprise for Johnny.

The next morning, like clockwork, Johnny ran out the back door to check on his watermelon patch. In a few minutes we could all hear his ‘hootin' and ‘hollerin.' "I got one! I got one! I got my very own watermelon! Everybody ‐ come look!!!" 

We could see him from the window. He jumped up and down, hopping from one foot to the other with that blond curly hair bouncing and his blue eyes shining.

We all went running out the back door to meet him as he continued jumping with that toothless seven year old grin, as he proudly displayed the roundest most beautiful little Sugar Baby watermelon any of us had ever seen in our entire lives. Of course we older kids were in on it but congratulated Johnny heartily on his superior gardening skills and his prize watermelon. He just beamed from ear to ear. Aunt Gloria put it in the fridge so it would be a nice cold dessert on that hot, summer night.

I will never forget his little face or for a moment, the sheer happiness and delight that one watermelon could bring to one small boy. He never forgot it, either. Many years later, when we reconnected over the telephone after going our separate ways for a long time the way adults just do, we spoke with delight of the watermelon story again.
And just for that moment, remembering, we were those two kids again. Rest in Peace, Johnny. You and your watermelon are forever in my heart.
Love from your cousin,
  Vicki

July 12, 2015

We Christians and Jews are Bound Together by Spiritual DNA

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

When I was growing up in the Bronx we lived on the third floor  in a five story walk-up on Sherman Ave. There were eight of us in a four room apartment. In the apartment below lived  Leo and Sophie Rabinowitz.  Quite often, in the middle of the night,  blood-curdling screams filled the back alley  and our apartment and the hallways outside. The screams were coming from the Rabinowitz’s. It was Sophie. She was having recurring nightmares. But Leo was the landlord and no one dared complain about the eery  howls that constantly reached the ears of so many. There was one man,  however,  who could not leave this alone. That man was my father.


I remember that Friday night long ago very well. The screaming started about midnight. It was September and the windows  were still open because it was hot and the screaming seemed exceptionally chilling. Dad got up and my brother, Danny, whispered from his bed, “I think he’s going down there.”

We got up and followed him and, without hesitating, Dad walked up to Leo’s  apartment door and began banging on it with his fist. We watched from the stairs as the door slowly opened. Leo poked his head out and just like that my father was embracing this little Jewish man who had buried his head in Dad’s chest  crying unashamedly. My brother and I crouched down, and peeking from the landing above,  were stunned.  Then Dad disappeared into that apartment with Leo Rabinowitz and did not leave for several hours.

Sophie Rabinowitz was having nightmares all right, recurring nightmares of her two boys, ages 12 and 9, being clubbed to death by the Nazis as they made her and Leo watch. Try as I may, I cannot  imagine what those moments in their lives were like. They were loving parents and were helpless, unable to save their very own children as godless people clubbed them to death simply because they were Jewish. The Nazis tortured the parents  further by allowing them to live. Such evil can only come into people and be accepted by them if coming from the very bowels of "Hell" itself.
My father has been dead for many years but he is still teaching me about being Catholic today. How? Through the gospel reading  from Matthew 5:1-12---aka The Sermon on the Mount. This is when Jesus, a Jewish man, gave  the world The Beatitudes. The one that always grabs me is #2, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted."

I remember that Friday night long ago. I remember how a Catholic man reached out to his Jewish neighbor and how they became friends. My father became their  ‘comforter’ who initiated the mourning process for Leo and Sophie. They had never mourned their boys. They had "stuffed the nightmare" and tried to go on living. This was the first time they had ever confronted what had happened.  Reliving  the sadness and horror also released a sense of beauty that shone through it for it united them in a renewed marital bond that had been missing for close to twenty years. They now became each other's strength.
 We Catholics read and hear during the Mass what is called the Roman Canon  (aka First Eucharistic Prayer). The following words are said by the priest prior to the words of consecration: “In communion with those whose memory we venerate, especially the glorious ever-Virgin Mary, Mother of our God and Lord, Jesus Christ, and blessed Joseph, her Spouse, —–and all your saints.”  I ask you, were not all of those mentioned, Jewish? Yes..they were, ABSOLUTELY. There is no denying this fact. They are all canonized saints and their Judaism was always part of who they were and it all extrapolated into who we Catholic/Christians are today. We Jews and Christians are joined forever by Spiritual DNA.

Finally, let me mention our Holy Father, Pope Francis.  The Pope is very good friends with one of the primary Jewish leaders in Argentina, Rabbi Abraham Skorka.  In October of 2012, he presented to Rabbi Skorka an honorary doctorate degree from the Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina. It was the first time such an honor had been bestowed on any Jewish man in all of Latin America. Upon presenting the award to Rabbi Skorka, the Pope (then Jorge Cardinal Bergoglio) said, “You cannot imagine how long I have waited for this moment.” We all should learn from this for it was a genuinely profound moment in history.

It is now 2015 and Judaism and Christianity are under attack all over the world including in the United States of America. It is in our face. We have had the the absolute luxury of practicing our religions and worshiping as we so chose for as long as any of us can remember. There have always been those who hated someone for being Jewish or Catholic or a Jehovah Witness or a Quaker for that matter. No matter, we had the law on our side and it was called the First Amendment to the Constitution.  All of us, Jews and Christians alike, need to pray and work together that it remains just that.

                                      ©2015 Larry Peterson All Rights Resereved

July 2, 2015

Another Secularist "Triumph": Say Good-Bye to Laura---She says, "Life is Not for ME"

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

Her  name is Laura and she is 24 years old. She is a healthy woman who lives in Belgium. She wants to die. Why does she want to die? Because, as she says, "Life, that's not for me."

My initial reaction was, "Oh my God, this young woman is severely depressed or on drugs. Whatever  happened to her that would lead her to a feeling of wanting DEATH? She is 24 years old and healthy. She has a whole life ahead of her. This story is all over the print and broadcast media. Why isn't someone helping her?"

Isn't there anyone who has offered to give her the necessary counseling, spiritual guidance, or anti-depressants to help her see that her own "life" is not her enemy? Is there no-one who might convince her that  her  life is a  one of a kind precious gift?  Is there no one to prevail upon her that her life  is rarer than the rarest diamond and  more valuable than all the world's riches combined?  Cannot someone show her that she is the only one in the history of the world who is SHE or will ever be SHE?  Well my friends, Laura lives in Belgium and apparently in that country not too many people give a damn about the value or sanctity of life.

In February of 2014, Belgium approved legalized euthanasia for children . I believe this supposedly sophisticated, civilized, and pompous nation has earned the title The Great Nation of  Self-Annihilators. In Belgium you are witnessing Nihilism in all of its twisted "splendor". This is encapsulated in the total rejection of the value of life as witnessed in the upcoming assisted suicide of Laura.

 How sad, how disgraceful, how blatantly sinful. Doctors have given Laura the go-ahead to kill herself. They will help her to be "successful". Why would doctors do this? In Belgium many of them feel that life and death are really not such a big deal in the first place. Laura says that she has been considering  suicide since the age of six. Are you kidding me!  She says that she was ONLY six when she started thinking that she "didn't want to live at all". It is hard to even fathom such thoughts bouncing around inside the head of a six year old who has not even reached the age of reason.

Laura has had psychological problems her entire life. In high school she was a "cutter" self-mutilating her arms. Her father had been an abusive drunk and her mother had left when she was a toddler. She grew up with her grandparents who loved her dearly but maybe the trauma of her parents' behavior was too much for her and drove her into depression. It does not matter. What matters is that this child had problems and no-one gave a damn. She was left to grow with a festering and debilitating sense of "nothingness". Now they want to help her kill herself. This is Nihilism run amok.

Laura has told doctors that  she needs to kill herself because, as she says, "life, that's not for me". They readily agreed and Laura has now set a date for her death injection to be administered in her apartment. The actual date is unknown. She is planning her funeral and writing final words to be read. Doctors and mental health professionals are happily helping her along on her death journey.  I cannot get it out of my head that she is only 24 years old and healthy and doctors are gladly helping her to kill herself simply because she asked them to help her do it. Whatever has  happened to the moral fiber of people around the world?

Secularism has infested the entire world with its self-fulfilling message of false happiness. Belgium, a country that is 75% Catholic, voted 2 to 1 to pass the child-euthanasia law. The bishops in the country begged them not to vote for it. It did not matter. The attitude of many people is: What do God's representatives know about real life? For that matter, what does God know about real life?  If poor Laura wants to kill herself to be happy, why not. And then they go to church. WHATEVER!

Well now, if you do not have God in your life  and believe that death leads to nothing then you probably find comfort in believing that "nothing" cannot hurt you. It follows that being dead will make you happy. How sad and perverse is this?  But it proves one thing. While the secular world fights to eliminate God from our lives it is God who is desperately needed back in their lives. For with God comes Hope and Love and when a person has that Faith in their lives they are not asking compliant strangers with fancy diplomas to help them die. Especially when they are only 24 and filled with life.
                                           
                                           ©Larry Peterson 2015 All Rights Reserved

June 27, 2015

And What About the Children?

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

The headline of the Tampa Tribune this morning (Saturday, June 27) was emblazoned with huge, bold letters that read,  "Pride & Joy".  The Tampa Bay Times shouted, "A Right For All".   The Supremes have spoken and their decision is in the books. According to the headlines, the world is rejoicing. I just wish someone could tell me about the children. What about the children?

We all have an inherent need to know our background and where we came from. How often do we hear and/or participate in conversations about our grandparents and great-great grandparents and so forth. We will delight in talking about accomplishments of our dads and our moms. We revel in tales  about uncles and aunts and grandparents and their grandparents and where they came from and their achievements.

War heroes, professional baseball players, movie actors, surgeons, jet fighter pilots, musicians, and a myriad list of very different people proudly (and sometimes not) fill the family lore of millions of families. Even adopted children have a need to know their roots. As they get older this need blossoms and they invariably begin a quest to find their birth-parents. It is all about "WHO I AM". And--they have an absolute right to know. They need to be "complete". Knowing their own family blood-line can fulfill that completion. That is just the way it is. It is an instinct, it is natural, it is GOOD. None of us came from a "cabbage-patch".

So, I ask again, what about the children? Yes, now that The SCOTUS has legalized the three parent family in the United States of America, what about the children that will be brought into families with same-sex parents? No matter what rule five empowered lawyers pass they cannot ever change the fact that a child must be the result of the procreation of a man and a woman. An infant may be brought home to two "married men" or two "married women" as their own child but is it really?   There is a third parent out there somewhere.

Heterosexual couples who adopt become a mom and a dad.  How does it work in a same-sex environment? Is the man who provides the sperm considered the father? Does the woman who provides the uterus for the sperm become the mother? When the child arrives at an age where they ask, "what can you tell me about my birth-mom or birth-dad", how is that handled? Will the sperm donor from 20 years ago be willing to  come forward? What happens when two married women break up? Who gets custody? Do they keep accurate records of all donors?

Will a new "cottage industry" pop up for supplying sperm and eggs to people who might have a disease and cannot get approval to acquire sperm? What if one of the "marrieds" decides that maybe they are not homosexual and want to take up with the opposite sex? And let us not forget genetic predisposition. Will the children of these "marriages" have their actual blood line available so they might be able to use genetic markers to see if they are predisposed to diabetes, breast cancer, heart disease, and even autism or mental illness? It reverts back to the question; what about the children? What does this do to the children?

There is an  irrefutable fact of life and this is it. From the beginning of time, man and woman knew that marriage was peculiar to male and female. It is as natural as the rising and setting of the sun. We, as a species, have a need to survive. Continuing the human race is part of that survival instinct. Individual men and women are naturally attracted to each other and when they are they join together to form a family that reproduces and continues the species. It is the way of things and has been so for millennia. A ruling by five people cannot ever change natural law.

Children have "rights" too. And it seems to me that one of these basic rights is to be raised by a female mom and a male dad who have willingly joined together and started a family. Only as  unique human beings of the opposite sex can this be done. I wish no malice to gay people. I do not hate gay people. I wish them all the best. If they choose to have a life together, so be it. But, in my opinion, this gay marriage revolution has forgotten about the children. They are an after-thought. Gay marriage is all about secularism's  mantra of self-gratification. But what about the children?

                                 ©Larry Peterson 2015  All Rights Reserved

June 20, 2015

Make No Mistake: The Encyclical, Laudato Si, is Primarily a Spiritual Document. It is NOT Political.

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

"Laudato Si" is here and I think many people are thinking/suggesting,accusing/ (pick your own medicine)  that Pope Francis has turned into a "pol". Yup, he is just another politician on the world stage trying to advance an ideology. So everyone had better take a deep breath. Pope Francis has released a magnificent piece of work that demonstrates how WE (air/water/ trees/marine-life/plants/animals and human beings are all interrelated and depend on each other. Think how true that all is.

The earth is, in fact, our primary home. The sun and the rain nourish the earth's soil and it gives forth food for animals and people. Some animals eat only plants and then other animals may feed on them (ie: Impalas feed on plants and grass while lions are carnivores and eat Impalas). People feed and survive from the plants and the animals. There is a magnificent balance in nature and we human beings are the most intricate part of it. That is because we are not only the ones who can nurture it, we are also the ones who can harm and destroy it. This is what the Holy Father is telling us. Start taking responsibility for our primary home, the planet we live on.

Pope Francis has nailed it. We are all an extension of each other in this world. Laudato Si reflects the very first chapter of the Bible: The Story of Creation (Please, before reading Laudato Si, re-read the first Chapter of Genesis).
           At the end of the first chapter, v28-29; God blessed them saying: "Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it. Have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and all the living things that move on the earth."  God also said: See, I give you every seed bearing plant all over the earth and every tree that has seed bearing fruit on it to be your food; and to all the animals of the land, all the birds of the air, and all the living creatures that  crawl on the ground, I give all the green plants for food." And so it happened, God looked at everything He had made, and He found it very good. Evening came and morning followed, the sixth day.

Pages and pages have already been written about this encyclical. It is being torn apart and analyzed by many and then all of these folks are offering their opinions as to what the document REALLY says. Naturally, almost all viewpoints differ. How fortunate we are to have such a wide variety of "expert" opinions to choose from. Well, here is an opinion no-one really gives much credence to--my own.

My opinion is simply this--Laudato Si is foremost a spiritual document reflecting the Word of God as set down in the very beginning of the Bible. God's primary creation, people, were given dominion over all things on Earth. The Pope is reminding us that we are all connected and all depend on each other and have to nurture and look out for each other. The plants, the animals, the air, the sea, all do what they have to do without reason. They just DO.



On the other hand, we, the people, reason and think. We have pride and ego and greed infiltrates many of our species. We have poured poisonous chemicals into our pure waters, we have polluted the air and sea and lakes, we have destroyed the rain forests. I need not go on. Laudato Si tells us to take care of our primary home, Mother Earth. It is the responsibility of all of us. It is not political but that it is how it will be viewed.

I, for one, wish to thank Pope Francis for "smacking us upside the head" and reminding us that our planet is more than a big blue marble. It is our primary home. Therefore, it is our God given responsibility to keep our home neat and clean.



                                        ©Larry Peterson 2015  All Rights reserved

June 14, 2015

From Persecution.org---The story of "Yohan" by Troy Augustine


IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

I usually do not re-post other columns but on this Sunday, June 14, 2015, as we in America celebrate "Flag Day" honoring "Old-Glory"  and all the freedoms she represents, I thought I would share this post from Persecution.Org. It was written by Troy Augustine, Regional Manager for the Africa Edition. 

It tells the story of a man named Yohan who, because he is Christian has been imprisoned, beaten and tortured since 2003 in Eritrea, a small nation in the Horn of Africa bordering the Red Sea. As a Catholic/Christian I know that Yohan is my brother in faith and we are connected through Jesus Christ. If you are Catholic/Christian/Jewish, you too, are connected to Yohan. 

On Flag Day in America we must always reflect on how blessed we are to have religious freedom. This freedom must always be protected and defended no matter what the cost.
___________________________________________


 One Eritrean Christian's Story of Torture and Triumph by Faith Imprisoned for Christ
Troy Augustine, Regional Manager for Africa
6/12/15 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) - For three days, "Yohan's" joints throbbed as the muscles in his arms and legs had stretched in directions human limbs are not intended to bend. His stomach was empty, except for the scraps that fell from the table of his captors after they had eaten their fill.

Yohan had been tied up like an animal, imprisoned, tortured, and starved for his faith in Christ in Eritrea. He was forced to eat trash mixed with dirty rain water that collected during the three days when prison guards bound him and left him outside, exposed to torrential rains, burning desert sun, and bitter cold nights.

"They take you outside in the hot sun with nothing to make you suffer and leave you out in the cold at night ... I was praying and God told me, 'Don't be afraid. It will pass. Stand in your faith,'"Yohan told International Christian Concern (ICC).

Yohan had been thrown in jail in 2003 because he was a zealous evangelist. In Eritrea, preaching the gospel is illegal, but that didn't stop Yohan from constantly testifying about Jesus Christ in the military after he was forcibly conscripted at age 18.

Eritrea's Atrocious Human Rights Record

Yohan's story of abuse and survival in Eritrea is not unique. The government rules its country with an iron fist, perpetuating a climate of fear and arbitrarily detaining, imprisoning, torturing, and often executing its opponents. Among the people, the state considers its enemies to be Christians who practice their faith outside of the three legal denominations: Catholic, Lutheran, and Orthodox.

Eritrea gained its independence from Ethiopia in 1993 and President Isaias Afwerki remains the country's only head-of-state since then. His administration is paranoid that Ethiopia will recapture Eritrea, so the state suppresses any groups which they feel could become a rebel movement.

"They don't allow preaching and they don't allow religious movements," Yohan said. "They are afraid always if people get together in groups ... They know if they gather to make fellowship, they think it will turn into a movement to end their power. They don't allow very large groups of people to gather for any reason," he added.

The United Nations (UN) released a scathing report on June 8, detailing the kinds of abuse that Yohan experienced that exist in Eritrea at a scale the document called "systematic, widespread, and gross." The report suggest that the Eritrean state may be guilty of "crimes against humanity."

"The religious gatherings of non-authorized denominations are prohibited. Religious materials are confiscated. Adherents are arbitrarily arrested, ill-treated or subjected to torture during their detention, and prisoners are coerced to recant their faith. Many religious followers have been killed or have disappeared," the report said.

The study compiled more than 700 testimonies from Eritreans who have similar stories to Yohan. Other prisoners like him testified about, "extreme forms of restraint, beatings or rape ... intended to inflict severe physical and psychological pain."

The United States Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) also designatedEritrea as a "Country of Particular Concern," in its 2015 Annual Report, corroborating the kinds of systematic abuses mentioned in the UN report and in Yohan's story.

The Dreadful Choice Facing Eritrean Christians

In the face of such terror perpetrated by their own government, scores of Eritrean Christians are fleeing the country, headed for Europe or the United States. On June 3, Islamic State (ISIS) militants kidnapped 88 Eritrean Christians in Libya, headed for Tripoli. According to reports, ISIS separated Christians and Muslims and let the Muslims go free.

On June 4, unknown gunmen, suspected to be from the Sudanese Islamist Rashaida tribe,reportedly opened fire on a convoy of between 49 and 70 Eritrean refugees traveling from Wadi Sharifey near Kassala to Shagarab refugee camp, kidnapping 14 Christians. In Sudan, Shagarab refugee camp is commonly known to be a favorite target of Rashaida, who is regularly involved in illegal human trafficking.

This unimaginable choice that Eritrean Christians face highlights the pervasive and understandable terror that permeates the country. The horrifying reality is that many Christians find it more hopeful to risk death by leaving for countries filled with Muslim extremists bent on their extinction, than to remain in their homeland.

"Faced with a seemingly hopeless situation [that] they feel powerless to change, hundreds of thousands of Eritreans are fleeing their country. In desperation, they resort to deadly escape routes through deserts and neighboring war-torn countries and across dangerous seas in search of safety. They risk capture, torture and death at the hands of ruthless human traffickers," the UN report concluded.

Suffering under the fiercest persecution in Eritrea, Yohan decided the same.

Yohan's Perseverance and Escape

In jail, Yohan became acquainted with suffering, just like his Savior was. Yohan pointed to God's grace, which sustained him through the torture and intimidation. He faced regular interrogations where officials tried to coerce him to recant his faith, even at gunpoint. Through all of it, Yohan's faith was strengthened. Like the Apostle Paul, Yohan was confident, and he was ready to die.

"If we believe in Jesus, and we live for Him, we die for Him. We are ready to die in every situation, in every moment. This is the story of our life. It is daily life," he said.

Despite continuous beatings and torture, Yohan refused to deny Christ. "I am nothing, but God is Alpha and Omega. I am not afraid of you because someday you are going to die, so I'm not afraid to die from you," he told his captors.

In 2004, after nearly a year in prison experiencing unspeakable persecution, Yohan made the same decision scores of his fellow Eritrean brothers and sisters are making today. He was determined to escape the country through Sudan. Yohan was provided a military uniform from a friend outside of the prison and disguised himself to escape.

Once he made it outside the gates, he sprinted for the Sudanese border, running for four days. Finally, he reached Sudan where officials interrogated him regarding his identity and then jailed for three days before releasing him. Ironically, Yohan found in Sudan a government that was more sympathetic to him as a refugee than the way his own government had treated him, even though Sudan's president Omar al-Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court for "crimes against humanity" for perpetrating genocide in Darfur.

From Sudan, Yohan traversed his way through different parts of Africa from Zimbabwe to South Africa, to Egypt, before finally reaching the United States where he lives under asylum. Yohan's story is one that accentuates the grace of God to persevere His people through the worst of suffering in this world.

Through it all, whether they survive like Yohan, or give their lives standing for Christ, Eritrean brothers and sisters have been counted worthy to suffer the way Jesus did. "We believe in Christ. The way of Christ is to suffer," Yohan said.

Footnote: Ou

June 7, 2015

The Latest Craze--Calling on Satan to "Come Out & Play"

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

Satan is the Great Impostor, the King of Lies, the Master of all Hate. He was God's greatest angel and decided that he was even better than God. So, the "created" tried to overwhelm the Creator. Having made this choice he and his followers were  cast out of God's world for all eternity. We mortal beings cannot even imagine the hate that fills these fallen spirits. Their hate is so great and pervasive because there can never be redemption for them. Consequently, they prowl around the world seeking new recruits to join them in their misery. They may have hit the "motherload" via the Internet.

The latest Internet game filling the cyber environment is called the "Charlie Charlie Challenge". A game that is being promoted as innocent has, as its objective, the goal of summoning the devil. Here is what I cannot fathom. In a world gone secular and trying to eliminate God from our existence why are thousands upon thousands of people, especially young people, trying to conjure up a confrontation with Satan himself? Many want to reject God and His Goodness and Love...yet are willing to call on Satan to have a "good time".

How bizarre is this? Satan (aka the Devil) is the opposite of GOOD. He is HATE . All that is UNgood comes from Satan.  There could never be a Satan without a God who created him in the first place. Yet people want to summon him up and talk to him, while at the same time claiming there is no God or that God is irrelevant in their lives. It DOES Not Make sense To Me.

The "Charlie Charlie Challenge" apparently came from the game being played in the Dominican Republic and then uploaded to YouTube.  April 29 is when it began and it spread to Twitter. Today it has gone viral. The two pencil game involves drawing a grid on a piece of paper with two sections labeled "yes" and two sections labeled "no". One pencil is balanced on top of the other pencil and then questions are asked; such as, "Charlie, are you here?" If he is "there" the pencil will move to the "yes" section. The main question then asked is "Can we play?" The fact that the slightest environmental change can cause the pencil on top to move is completely ignored.
The Charlie Charlie Challenge is a phenomena that is readily explainable.


There are two kinds of pride: negative and positive. Positive pride has to do with such things as being proud of your family or being proud of an accomplishment worked for and earned through personal hard work and sacrifice. Negative pride is all about self. If a person places their wants and perceived needs above all else and will attempt anything to satisfy those needs, that is when Pride becomes the greatest sin.

This "Charlie Charlie Challenge" is simply a reflection of how ridiculously self-serving so many have become in this meistic secularized society. It is Pride gone rogue. First,reject God and bash religion. The follow that and embrace God's first creations, who are Satan, and his fallen angels. Play games with them, have fun with them, and see where it gets you. There is an old adage that says, "The devil you get might be worse than the one that you have".

So PLEASE--be careful what you ask for. Where the "Charlie Charlie Challenge" takes you can prove damning. But it is never too late. Unlike the demons you have been hanging with, you are still eligible for God's mercy and forgiveness. It is only too late after you die. It is time to kick the "Charlie Charlie Challenge" back into the Hell it came from lest you get dragged in with it.
                                   ©Larry Peterson 2015 All Rights Reserved

May 30, 2015

The Supreme Court on Stage: The Fate of the American Family Waits in the Wings

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

G. K. Chesterton said, "This triangle of truisms, of father, mother and child, cannot be destroyed; it can only destroy those civilizations which disregard it."

June is upon us and so is the decision by the United States Supreme Court as to whether or not "same-sex marriage" is  allowed under the U.S Constitution. Proponents have argued that "same-sex marriage" is guaranteed under the 14th Amendment. How the subject of  marriage came to be a topic for the SCOTUS is beyond me. There is NOT one word in the Constitution about 'marriage'.

A word not being used in the case before the SCOTUS or in the entire conversation is matrimony. The civil and  religious connections between marriage and matrimony are obviously in great disharmony within the secular world. Secular-World wants it all, including validation and approval by the Catholic Church. That will never happen. Now what?

How about the 10th Amendment which was added to assure the people that the Federal Government would not  step outside the boundaries as set forth in the Constitution. This amendment states that if some power or authority is not specifically given to the Feds it is left up to either the state(s) or the people. When did marriage become a federal issue? What does marriage have to do with the equality and freedoms afforded the slaves by the 14th Amendment?

Can two men or two women EVER be equal to a man and a woman? The answer is NO! There are those who  (using the "equality card") call banning same-sex marriage, racism. How are two men or two women the same as a bi-racial man and woman? That is preposterous. But I am not an ivy-league academician puffed up with an all consuming sense of self (forgive me for being a tad sarcastic but, right now, I do not care). Bottom line--I believe this subject should have been left to the states and the people. (The links have been inserted above so you can read the two amendments yourself.)

With the proliferation of the "gay agenda" or "LGBT agenda" it seems that the nation has as many gay people as straight people. But if you take a look at the numbers they tell a different story. The total LGBT population in the USA is 3.8% with the gay population at 1.6%. I took these numbers from the link inserted in the previous sentence. If those numbers are accurate why in heaven's name does the print and broadcast media and the Hollywood elite and so many politicians make it sound as if the world has transformed? Why are we watching the destruction of the traditional family? Why are people who simply DISAGREE with this lifestyle called intolerant, racist, or homophobes?  

Marriage between a man and a woman is a beautiful thing--if it is entered into for the right reason. I did not say reasons but rather REASON. For there is one primary reason to enter into this sacrament. The reason is to GIVE--give of yourself to your spouse. Marriage is the ultimate commitment to GIVING. Within that paradigm a family flourishes, thrives and grows.

Children are the result of the love shared between the husband and wife, shared willingly and joyfully, never under duress or out of a sense of obligation. In  a family built on self-sacrifice to each other these children can grow up to be productive worthwhile citizens continuing the human race as God intended. I may sound like a "pollyanna" and, if I do, so be it.

Ah, but the human equation brings self gratification into the mix. Many times that does not matter because the truly committed manage to overcome their self wants for each other. But oftentimes, the outside world gets into the lives of a couple and manages to create doubts and anxiety and suggest to one or the other that they are not being "treated fair". Sadly, today's divorce rate is at 50%. These people never entered into a marriage intending for it to end in divorce. At least I hope not.

So, what happened? The outside world got into their world and they fell into the trap of "meism". And today, that outside world, overwhelmingly secular in nature, is everywhere. Armed  with its electronic friends and fueling the fires of secularism, our society is crumbling before our very eyes.

In less than 30 days the future of our society may well be determined by nine people. The words of Chesterton should become ingrained in our psyche: "This triangle of truisms, of father, mother and child, cannot be destroyed; it can only destroy those civilizations which disregard it."


                              ©Larry Peterson 2015 All Rights Reserved

May 23, 2015

Will Legalizing "Same-Sex Marriage" Legalize the "Three-Parent Family?

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

by Larry Peterson

The Republic of Ireland, once a bastion of Catholicism, now has embraced the distinction of being the first country in the world to approve a constitutional amendment approving of  "same-sex marriage". I wrap the phrase in quotation marks because this whole concept is still an illusion. No matter how you spin, present, defend, and embrace the doctrine of  "same-sex marriage" there is always going to be this tiny, little problem. It is called procreation. That is simply because within a "same-sex marriage" procreation  can never happen without the involvement of a third person, that person being of the opposite sex. "Same-sex marriage" spawns the "three-parent family".

Already the Irish Prime Minister, Enda Kenny, has already said that Catholic Schools will be required to teach "same-sex marriage" as part of the curriculum. How can they do that? That violates Church teaching. Have we arrived at an international secular tipping point where Church teachings are subject to the whims and mores of the present culture? Apparently we have. What about the children?

Even the Catholic Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuld Martin, simply voted "no" because of his OWN belief  and did not defend the church he represents.The Archbishop said  that "those days are gone" referring to a time when the Church hierarchy would  instruct Catholics how they should vote. How courageously pathetic is that? And what about the children?

Apparently this new law confers an automatic right on "same-sex couple" to procreate. But they CANNOT DO IT. You need a person of the OPPOSITE SEX to do it. So are we now to have a whole new industry arise whose purpose will be to provide wombs and sperm depending on the "same-sex" gender of the wannabe parents? And what about the children?

The Supreme Court of The United States of America will pronounce their ruling on the constitutionality of "same-sex marriage" toward the end of June. I believe that decision has already been reached and is in the "can" ready to be read. I also believe that the Court will go 5 to 4 in favor of "same-sex marriage". I hope I am wrong because the ramifications of such a decision will be (in my opinion) catastrophic for the nation.

The law will require Catholic/Christian schools to teach the secular dogma of this law. If they do not  abide by this law will they have to forfeit any tax credits or exemptions, ie: their 501(c)3? Will hefty fines be imposed? Can they be closed down by federal mandate? Catholic hospitals will be told to violate their faith bound principles and they will not be able to. Will they then be forced to close because of the sudden absence of Medicare and Medicaid funds? What about the children?

Bottom line--this is a disaster. No one is trying to deprive "same-sex couples" of any civil or legal rights.  What we are watching here is the attempted destruction of the First Amendment to our Constitution. Once the law of the land can tell the religions of the land what they must think and do--it is the end of our Republic as we know it. And when the children of these three parent families grow up and want to find out who their REAL mom or dad was, how does that work? Do you call Ancestry.com?
                                 
                               ©Larry Peterson 2015 All Rights Reserved